Not-Quite-Pie Pumpkin Cupcakes {Gluten-Free}

imageFifteen years ago, I graduated from high school. I don’t remember much about graduation day. I kind of remember getting my diploma, I kind of remember going out to eat with my brothers, their wives, Best Friend and my parents. One specific memory sticks out to me, though. My oldest brother, who is older by 10 years, gave me one of the best presents I’ve ever received.

Now, before I tell the story, I need to tell you that Oldest Brother is brilliant, mischievous, adventurous, slightly irreverent, fiercely protective and independent. I have always adored him for those qualities. As a teenager and twenty-something, he wasn’t super affectionate or outwardly sentimental but it never bothered me. He is Oldest Brother. I’ve always felt safe and cared for and slightly in awe of him.

After the graduation ceremony, we went back home and I opened presents. I’m sure I got money and little tokens. But Oldest Brother gave me a very worn scrap of faded material. Everybody went very still and then got teary.

This little scrap was from my childhood Winnie-the-Pooh blanket. It was pale blue and silky and fit perfectly in my toddler fist when I sucked my thumb. It was fringed and worn around the edges. (My mom cut my large blanket into smaller pieces so I could always have it with me and never totally lose it. Smart lady.) When I was three, our family pediatrician had a heart-to-heart with me about the evils of thumb-sucking. I have no idea what she said, but it definitely worked. I went straight home, gathered up all my pieces of blanket and threw them in the trash. I vowed never to suck my thumb again and didn’t look back. Nobody thought to hang onto a piece of blanket for posterity.

Except Oldest Brother.

He kept that ratty scrap for 15 years; through an Alaska-to-Texas move, junior high, high school, college, marriage, several cities and apartments, and most of the 80’s and 90’s. His 13 year-old self salvaged and kept it safe in a drawer until he was ready to give it back to me. Few gifts hold as much meaning for me.

We share the same parents, the same Other Brother, and the same love for the outdoors, twisted humor and good food. Neither of us eat much sugar these days, so I wanted to create something just for him. His first love is chocolate, and normally I’m up for chocolate. But he can do chocolate on his own exceptionally well, and I wanted to create something different. His second love is pumpkin pie. I came across a similar recipe and it inspired me. These little bites of bliss aren’t completely pie, and they’re not quite cake.

So this is for Oldest Brother… Not-Quite-Pie Pumpkin Cupcakes, created with a tremendous amount of gratitude and affection. Happy Thanksgiving!



  • 1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk (or 1 cup cream if you don’t mind dairy)
  • 1 15 oz can 100% pumpkin puree (no additives)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or whole milk)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 40 drops NuNaturals vanilla stevia
  • 1 cup sweetener of your choice (I like coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, erythritol, almond milk, stevia, vanilla extract and only the cream from the coconut milk (It separates if you chill it slightly. Just skim it off the top and reserve the watery part for another use.)
  2. In a smaller bowl, sift coconut flower and combine with baking powder, spices, and salt.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients until smooth.
  4. Pour batter into lined muffin tins (you can fill them at least 3/4 of the way) and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. The tops will be slightly firm to the touch, but it will still be fairly wet.
  5. Refrigerate overnight, then top with whipped coconut cream flavored with pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract.

Hot Mama Cocoa

imageThis week, I have not been feeling so hot.  We’ve battled and won our first round of seasonal sickness, hormones are fluctuating, and I’m just not feeling like myself.

Can you relate?

I know what my problem is: Chocolate.  I’m not eating enough of it.  I read an article on the internet that said chocolate is a superfood.  (So is champagne, but coffee and red wine are more my speed these days.) And since the internet is never wrong, I was able to self-diagnose my biggest issue and root cause. I ran out of my favorite dark chocolate bars and they’re too pricey to buy when they’re not on super sale. And here’s the reality of my life: It’s not worth living without that chocolate at the end of the day.  Or in the middle of my day.  Or to start my day.

I’ve also been needing a little pep in my step. I don’t know if it’s the weather, lack of chocolate, the pitch dark that sets in at 4:00pm sharp, or what, but I also need a little more help with energy and, uh, sex drive.  Yep, I’m going there. Sorry.

After working long days taking care of a toddler and working from home, cooking up a storm, and just doing life, getting busy is pretty much the last thing I have energy for, TBH. So, adding spices to actually spice up my life and boost my mojo?  Okay.  Let’s do that.

Maca is a natural hormone booster, and cayenne pepper is wonderful for digestion and circulation. Cinnamon is warming and curbs sugar cravings.  So, this is my cocoa cocktail to get my hot mama mojo back.  Plus, it’s damn delicious.


  • 2 cups milk of your choice (I use coconut milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a tiny dusting of cayenne pepper (a tiny bit goes a VERY LONG WAY)


  1. Combine all of your ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat on medium low.
  2. Whisk continuously until hot and well blended. (5 ish minutes)
  3. Pour into your favorite mug or thermos and sip.

So hot right now!

How to Feed The Whole Family Without Going Crazy {An Integrated First Foods List for TLB’s Infant Feeding Guide}

It’s dinner time. This might be the most dreaded and simultaneously anticipated hour of the entire day. What we often see happening in our heads is not always the reality of our experience, though.

Candlestick Table

Fantasy: A beautiful table setting. Children, clean, happy, patient, and compliant as parents bring in the food and set it on the impeccable table. Laughter ensues as you dish up tonight’s yummy food that you worked hard to shop for, plan, and create. It’s cooked to perfection, and your family takes turns sharing they highlights of their day, make appropriate jokes, and they eat everything without complaint, including your charming, little babe. You stare across the table at your partner with twinkles in your eyes and share a satisfied, knowing half-smile. Because nothing says foreplay like a good meal.

After the family works harmoniously and efficiently to clean the dishes, put away leftovers, and tidy up the kitchen, you all relax with a small dish of ice cream and nobody asks for seconds. It’s perfect.

Reality: After spending two hours in the kitchen assembling 3 different dinners to accommodate everyone’s dietary needs, you push homework and bills and a random assortment of household clutter that has mysteriously accumulated on your table during the last 12 hours over to the far corner where you artfully ignore it’s presence as you coax your children to eat amidst their complaining, your scolding, and eventually all-out bribery. Your baby throws everything on the floor, but not before nailing you in the face with home-made organic butternut squash puree. You and your partner are too consumed with the dinner activity to actually eat much, and after precariously re-arranging the refrigerator to accommodate nearly three full meals’ worth of food and haphazardly doing the dishes with a baby on your hip, you just call it a day, pass a package of bunny grahms around, and (miraculously) get the kids to bed.

You and your partner eat ice cream straight from the carton, feeling defeated but also relieved you made it through another day. You watch an episode of whatever series you’ve been trying to get through for months, and fall into bed with a high five before passing out from pure exhaustion. Maybe tomorrow things will go a little better, but who cares because you’re already asleep. For now.

I can’t always reconcile the Fantasy v. Reality dinner situation. I try, though. One of the ways I shorten the gap is by making a few meals a week that I know everyone can (and will) eat, including the wee ones. Here are some family dinner ideas that will satisfy everyone, and will be appropriate for all ages, even the babies who are just starting their life-long solid food experience.

Creamy Polenta with RaguPolenta Ragu

This is an easy dish that makes excellent leftovers. Polenta is easy to eat, doesn’t require teeth, and you get a full serving of veggies along with varied textures in each flavorful bite. This is a base recipe, but you can tweak it to please your family.





Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna Photo of Zucchini Goat Cheese Lasagna

This is another one-dish meal that is easy for all ages to eat and appreciate. By substituting noodles with zucchini, you’re upping the veggie factor. Goat cheese can often be easier to digest than cow’s cheese, so this is great for those with sensitive tummies.





Perfect Chicken SoupPerfectChickenSoup

Soup is fun for little ones, even if it tends to be a bit messy. Fishing out chunks of chicken, veggies and noodles while splashing and tasting the broth is a great food experience. It’s yummy for everyone else, too.





Cauliflower Fried “Rice” CauliflowerRiceCorner

This veggie-based dish is quick to prep and has something for everyone. It’s easy to customize for your picky eaters, and your baby can enjoy eating this independently or with a little help from mom or dad.






Tortialla Soup paleo tortilla soup avocado bone broth

This is another great food experience for your little one, and you can get creative with toppings. It’s one of my family’s favorites, and full of healthy fats! If you aren’t up for letting your baby bask in soup, you can let them play with chunks of avocado, chicken, tomato, and cheese.





FrittataQuarterView Garden Vegetable Frittata

Frittatas are so easy, and ideal for busy families. A frittata takes 20 minutes to prepare and makes excellent leftovers for breakfast or brinner.






Hemp Crusted Zucchini Sticks EZucchini

This is my toddler’s favorite dish. I love it because they’re so healthy and he can share with his younger friends.







Brown-Butter Sage Spaghetti Squash SpaghettiSquash

This is an easy prep with a high satisfaction factor. With simple ingredients, this works well as a side or as an independent dish. This is ideal for trying solids!






Almond Joy Barscoconut bars

These are soft and easy to chew, but everyone will love them as a snack or treat after dinner. I often eat these for breakfast, but don’t tell my kid!






Quinoa Fritters

Quinoa Fritters with Honey Butter 

My family is stoked when I make these. I love cooking with quinoa because it has so many more nutrients and has a fair amount of protein. Many kids (and adults) with food allergies and grain intolerances handle quinoa very well. With the easy-to-grasp shape, these fritters are ideal for baby-led weaning or eating with some help from an adult. You can whip up a batch in a hurry, and serve with a side of bacon or some leftover frittata.



I can’t promise you’ll have your fantasy family dinner with these dishes, but hopefully it will make dinner a little less hectic and please everyone, especially your littlest eaters.  And if all else fails, there’s always milk.

You’ve got this.



Roasted Delicata Squash with Fennel


Fall is my absolute favorite. Why?

Because FOOD.

Who else wants to eat ALL THE THINGS? Well, so do I, friend.  So do I.

A few years ago, we discovered this gem of a gourd. It’s name is Delicata and it lives up to all the whimsy and subtlety that the name would suggest. It’s light, slightly sweet, and so crazy delicious that YOU WILL WANT TO EAT ALL OF IT IMMEDIATELY.

I’ve tried it a few different ways, and the easiest and tastiest way to prep it is in the oven.  A simple roast with coconut oil and pink salt elevates the squash to another level.  It’s a level you want to be at, trust me. It’s also simple and quick to prepare and the squash doesnt’ require peeling, unlike some other squash cousins.  Yep, I’m looking at you, Butternut.  You’re too much work! But delicata takes all the work out of it.

This super simple dish is great as a side, but honestly, I eat it on it’s own all the time. Because it takes no work to prepare, it’s comforting, and very filling.



  • 2 delicata squash, de-seeded and sliced (no need to peel!)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut in half and sliced
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pink himalayn salt
  • 2 tsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fennel fronds (the soft, feathery green things that sprout out of the the fennel bulb)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more for spicy)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, place fennel, delicata squash, and rosemary.
  2. Add coconut oil, and stir quickly.  Add salt and red pepper flakes and mix again.
  3. Spread squash and fennel out on a large baking sheet, and try to get as many pieces to lay as flat as possible.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Remove from oven and garnish with a little more salt and fresh fennel fronds,
  6. Eat immediately and enjoy! Or save for later and mix up a salad with some quinoa, spinach, and dried cranberries.

Enjoy the season!


Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (Paleo, Vegan)

PUmpkin Bread2

This is your obligatory fall pumpkin post.

And it’s freaking amazing.

Now, I have to be very honest with you. (What, like I would lie to you otherwise?! Being (too) honest is part of the fun.) I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin.  I’m really not a huge fan of pumpkin spice.  I find that I’m really happy with one gluten-free pumpkin treat a year.  I’ll eat the pumpkin pie if that’s my only option at Thanksgiving.  I’ll throw pumpkin cheesecake a bone, too, because that is legitimately the best thing about Fall.

But pumpkin flavored soda or pumpkin spice toothpaste or any other number of Things That Should Never Be Pumpkin are just not doing any of us any favors. Even so, I get it.  It’s a craze. It’s fun. And people enjoy the feelings of Fall, and all things associated with this beautiful season. Even if it’s still 90 degrees most days, I GET IT.

So, I want you to have as much fall as you can handle.  Baby Zeus knows we will all struggle with sad winter feelings come January, which is why I’ve created lots of pumpkin-y things in my kitchen this month.  Even though it’s been 90 degrees here in the PNW all September and in the 80’s in October, and we don’t have central air conditioning and I don’t like pumpkin much.  It’s okay. That run-on sentence made me feel better, just like pumpkin treats make you feel better.


Also, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to tasty desserts so I endeavor to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.  This only means GOOD THINGS for you, my friends.  Easy, mind-blowingly good things.


  • 1 16 oz jar unsalted almond butter (Raw is best, but roasted works, too.)
  • 3 large eggs, or 3 Tbsp flax meal mixed with 6 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp natural sea salt (I prefer kosher style)


  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs (or flax mixture), almond butter, pumpkin, vanilla extract and honey.  Stir well.
  2. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Combine thoroughly. (You can use a mixer, but I prefer using a sturdy spatula.)
  3. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon batter into a greased bread pan. (I prefer to split it up between 2-3 small loaf pans.)
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-65 minutes, depending on your oven and size of pans.
  6. Remove from oven and transfer to a baking rack to cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.  The cooler the bread, the better removal will go.  Because there is no gluten, it might crumble if removed too soon.

Pumpkin Bread

So, let’s have fun with this, okay? Mix it up.  Change out the chocolate chips.

Try butterscotch chips.

Try nuts.

Try maple glaze.

Try bacon.

Try Junior Mints.

Just kidding,  Junior Mints would be freaking disgusting.Make your pumpkin dreams come true.

PSL Forevah,